I've been watching a live streaming of a forum on workplace flexibility that's being held at the White House. I would have never known about this had it not been for one of my favorite blog authors, Heather Armstrong, who runs dooce.com. She was invited to participate in the forum, and I've been excited to see her take part in such an important issue that so many of us face.
I wish I was sitting in on that forum because as I type, I am dealing with this exact issue at my job with TSA. We recently had our shift bid and, since I'm about fifth from the bottom, I didn't have much to choose from. Since you can read all about that rant here, I won't bore you all with the details again.
Last Friday I had the unfortunate opportunity to deal with the hardship panel with regards to the paperwork I submitted. In a nutshell, my hardship states I can only work a certain shift because the schedule my kids have with school and time with their dad does not allow for any wiggle room.
During my meeting with the panel I briefly described the events that have led up to my needing these hours, in tears no less, as it's been a very stressful year for all of us. I was asked questions such as, "Do you have any friends who could take the kids to school?" "Have you looked into early morning daycare?"
When I left the meeting I headed straight for the women's room, in a blubbering mess. This is not a daycare issue (daycare issues are not considered valid hardships!). I am not going to wake my kids up at 5:00 in the morning and take them to a friend's house so she can drop them off at school for me. I am not going to disrupt their lives again, changing the routine that has been working for us all and has allowed them to feel a sense of security that has eluded them since the day I separated from their dad.
I am a single mother responsible for getting her kids to school and picking them up from their dad's house five days/week. I work my ass off while I'm at the airport, giving 150% day in and day out. I don't let my situation keep me from doing my job, but I will say one thing - having to go through the hardship process is a huge blow to my morale.
The excitement and pride I used to have for my job is seriously fading because I feel that I'm nothing more than a number on a piece of paper. The people who are there, who see me working my ass off day in and day out have no say in the hardship decision. It's in the hands of people who don't know me, who don't know the ins and outs of my situation, who don't see the constant struggles my kids and I face. They don't see me as a valuable asset to the TSA team; instead I'm just another person who can't find a babysitter and wants a favor.
I don't know when I'll receive final word on the decision, but I'm hoping it's before April 11th, when the new bid goes into effect. If I do get it, life will go on as usual. If I don't, then I will find myself calling in an hour and a half late every day until I find a different job that will fit the hours I so desperately need.
Wish me luck...